Done properly, sending story ideas to reporters and bloggers is actually helpful and is exactly what they need in order to do their jobs.
As a former reporter, I can assure you that media personnel need story ideas constantly. In the weekly publications in which I worked, we were required to write a minimum of three stories each week and that did not include stories for special publications included periodically in the weekly publication. The pressure for reporters employed at daily publications and for bloggers is even greater. The demand for news stories is insatiable, particularly when you consider the multitude of print, broadcast and online news sources.
Now, reporters ARE inundated with press releases. And, they gets lots of contact from PR people promoting stories on behalf of their clients. However, in my experience, reporters can never have enough sources – real people who actually want to speak with them.
Everyone, and I do mean, everyone, has story ideas that are of interest to the media. How many times have you seen a story on the news or read a story in a print or online publication and asked yourself “What about this factor?” or been left with questions? Each one of those instances represents a follow-up story for a reporter and provides them with an opportunity to cover an angle the original story did not address.
Another opportunity for story ideas are business situations that are keeping you and your clients/customers awake at night.
As I mentioned, the key to successfully pitching stories is to do it properly. The first key is knowing what IS news and what is NOT news. A news story should contain one of the following elements:
- Recent events
- Important events
- A new solution (the more people impacted, the greater the appeal of the story)
- Updates on important/well-known people
- A problem impacting a group of people (the more people impacted, the greater the appeal of the story)
- A developing trend
- A tragedy (the more people impacted, the greater the appeal of the story)
- An injustice (the more people impacted, the greater the appeal of the story)
These are the most common elements.
Many people hesitate to make what is essentially a cold call to a reporter. Social media makes it easier than ever to create a relationship with the media. You can follow reporters on Twitter and Facebook, and connect with them on LinkedIn. Once you do that, make a point to send them comments about their stories that you read and enjoy. You’d be surprised at how infrequently reporters receive positive comments about their work. Sincere and thoughtful comments are always welcomed and will create a relationship over time.
As for the actual mechanics of pitching a news stories, there are many great article available by searching on Bing and Google. Here is a link to one I found to be particularly informative: How To Pitch a Story To the Media. Another good article is 10 Media Pitching Tips for New Entrepreneurs, although the author and I disagree about the degree to which reporters appreciate receiving story pitches.